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Strange Illusion


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Product Details

  • Actors: Jimmy Lydon, Sally Eilers, Warren William, Regis Toomey, Charles Arnt
  • Directors: Edgar G. Ulmer
  • Writers: Adele Comandini, Fritz Rotter
  • Producers: Leon Fromkess
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 18, 2001
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005NG0H
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,132 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Strange Illusion" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Collection of original theatrical trailers for Ulmer's films
  • Archive of original advertising art
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette, "The King of PRC" (16 min.)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The highly acclaimed DVD collection of low-budget auteur Edgar G. Ulmer's classic genre films continues with this fabled film noir. "Strange Illusion is another stylish low-budget feature directed by Edgar G. Ulmer," writes Carl Macek in Silver & Ward's indispensable guide "Film Noir," "The most interesting aspect of the film rests in its updating of Hamlet, complete with a message from beyond the grave and the faked insanity, into contemporary thriller. The asylum sequences are controlled visions of chaos and corruption, a mental hell sardonically defined by Ulmer." A Poverty Row suspense classic as only Ulmer made 'em.

Amazon.com

Clean-cut American teen Jimmy Lydon is tormented by nightmares in which his deceased father warns him about Mom's new boyfriend, and he feigns madness to infiltrate a mental hospital where he suspects the answers lie. Yes, it's Hamlet refigured as a suburban film noir thriller with a psychiatric twist. Former Hollywood leading man Warren William is thoroughly wolfish as a silver-haired lothario whose slick charm and classy manners hide a disturbing taste for teenage girls, and Sally Eilers plays his mark, the young widow with two teenage kids and a sizable life insurance payoff. B-movie legend Edgar G. Ulmer (Detour) overcomes a starvation budget to create a modest little thriller with understated mood, simple but eerie dream sequences, and a creepy undercurrent of corruption and sexual deviance. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Even if the best-acted roles are the bad guys, that's not necessarily a drawback in a B movie.
C. O. DeRiemer
Famed criminologists did well for themselves back then, and the fatted calf he left for his young family sets oily wolf Brett Curtis off on the chase.
Steven Hellerstedt
For my money, this film's treatment of psychoanalysis, exploitative though it may be, is still superior to Hitchcock's _Spellbound_.
Timothy Hulsey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"Strange Illusion" was directed by the great B-movie director Edgar G. Ulmer, sometimes called "The Poet of Poverty Row" -meaning independent film and small studios, who is perhaps best known for making the famous and famously low-budget film noir "Detour" in 1946. "Strange Illusion" is more a conventional thriller than film noir, as it lacks film noir's introversion, alienation, and cynicism. It's a creepy but optimistic crime film that's well-conceived despite its shoestring budget and overstated acting. Ulmer's background in production design is evident in the thoughtful set design.

Paul Cartwright (James Lyndon) is a college student haunted by a dream in which an impostor, posing as Paul's deceased father, fools his mother and sister into accepting him into the family. Paul's father, an eminent criminologist, was killed in an unexplained car accident 2 years before, and left letters with his estate to be sent to Paul every few months. When Paul receives a letter from his father asking that he guard his mother and sister against unscrupulous associates, shortly after his troubling dream, Paul heads for home anxious as to what he might find. Paul's mother (Sally Eilers) is being romanced by a slick middle-aged bachelor named Brett Curtis (Warren William). When Curtis' words and actions recall his dream, and Curtis resembles a notorious criminal in his father's files, Paul becomes intent on finding out more about his mother's suitor.

"Strange Illusion" isn't subtle or multi-layered. It pretty much hits you over the head with these characters and their story. But this is a B-picture, probably part of a double bill, and it works as enjoyable, creepy, occasionally licentious entertainment. The film's flaw, looking at it from 60 years hence, is the character of Paul.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Linda McDonnell on July 23, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
My never-ending search for Warren William movies eventually led me to "Strange Illusion", one of the last films of his career, in which he plays an honest to God creep!
Teenage Jimmy Lydon has been plagued by nightmares since his father's unsolved murder--and the latest one seems to suggest danger surrounding his mother. The next thing you know, mom announces she has a suitor, Warren William. Guess what? Uh huh, that's right. So this is partly David Copperfield/Mr. Murdstone and partly Hamlet/Claudius, as one reviewer made note. An unsavory twist is that Warren William has a fancy for underage girls, which doesn't bode well for Jimmy's girlfriend.
Still and all, I liked "Strange Illusion" because it is major camp on top of everything else--others in my family hated it, though. Ergo, I guess it's just one of those movies you have to make up your own mind about.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hellerstedt on February 3, 2005
Format: DVD
Review of the Alpha Video release.

Young Paul (James Lydon) isn't having a good time of it. His father has recently died, and, while on a fishing trip with avuncular family friend Dr. Martin Vincent (Regis Toomey), he dreams of his father's death. The dream convinces him that the death wasn't an accident, after all. Worried enough to cut their vacation short, they return home to find Paul's mother (Sally Eilers) engaged to the outwardly charming stranger, Brett Curtis (Warren William.) Before they leave Paul receives a letter from the grave. It seems the old man instructed his estate to send his son these epistles from beyond. The latest one warns against `unscrupulous imposters.' Cue a few bars from Schumann's Concerto (the score of the boy's premonitory dreams.)

Cross-cut to the manor - Paul's father was a judge and a `famed criminologist,' and if they sold the young man's house they'd probably be able to finance ten STRANGE ILLUSIONS. Famed criminologists did well for themselves back then, and the fatted calf he left for his young family sets oily wolf Brett Curtis off on the chase. Mother seems deeply in love, Paul is hesitant and then secretly opposed when Curtis repeats not only complete lines of dialogue from his dream but also tinkles a bar or two of Schumann's Concerto.

STRANGE ILLUSION borrows heavily from Shakespeare's Hamlet early on. The dead father communicating from the grave, the unavenged murder, the mother with the murderous beau. Being a big fan of suspense thrillers from the 40s I was salivating by the time Paul and the Doc stowed the rods and tackle and made for home. This was going to get weird.
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Format: VHS Tape
Hamlet, Freud and Edgar Ulmer may seem like an unnatural group of pals, but among them they have come up with a tidy little psychological thriller. In fact, with a bigger budget and stronger actors, Ulmer might have had a classic on his hands. As it is, Strange Illusion can't escape its Poverty Row heritage. Even so, it's a well-paced movie that keeps a person's interest. Even if the best-acted roles are the bad guys, that's not necessarily a drawback in a B movie.

Paul Cartwright's father, an older man and a respected judge, died two year ago in a train accident...at least it appeared to be an accident. Paul's not so sure. Paul (James Lydon) is a young man from a good family. He has a younger sister and an attractive mother, Virginia Cartwright (Sally Eilers). The family is well off. Paul lately has been having dreams, disturbing dreams, of his father telling him to take care of his mother, to be wary of a shadowy someone who is coming into her life. Paul confides in an old friend of the family, Dr. Martin Vincent (Regis Toomey), who tries to calm Paul but who also respects Paul's intelligence. Paul is, in fact, smart and resourceful. Then one day Paul's mother introduces him to Brett Curtis (Warren William), a smooth, gracious man Paul feels he's met before. Curtis and his mother announce that they plan to wed.

Paul becomes suspicious of Curtis and Curtis' association with Professor Muhlbach (Charles Arnt), a psychologist who runs an exclusive and very private sanitarium. Before long, Paul becomes a "guest" in the place so that he can investigate Muhlbach and Curtis. But things begin to go wrong. It becomes a race to see if Paul can break away, if Dr.
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